10 Tips for Choosing Your Kid's First Car

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Ford's MyKey system can limit the car's top speed (and the stereo volume), enforces seatbelt use and more. (Creative Commons/Flickr/HighTechDad)

You know how your kid wanted all of the technology in his car to make up for the fact that you're making him deal with an old iPhone 4? Well, if you're buying new, you're going to give to him. Big time. In fact, you can monitor his every move. Ford's MyKey system limits the car's top speed and the stereo volume, enforces seatbelt use and even gives earlier low-fuel warnings so your kid can't leave you stranded in the driveway before work the next morning. Hyundai's BlueLink system sends you a message on your phone if the car is going over a speed limit you've set, or if the car is out past its curfew. It's a techno tattletale.

Author's Note: 10 Tips for Choosing Your Kid's First Car

My parents bought my first car for me when I was 17. I absolutely, positively did not want it, despite this being the dark ages before cell phones or any other tech wizardry. I had nothing to do with the purchase, and that's how I ended up with the most horrid, faded red, musty smelling Chevy Chevette the world has ever seen. We bought it used, and my parents test drove it while I sulked in the cramped, tan vinyl back seat. It was so cheap they wrote a check for it. I avoided driving it, coming up with any excuse to catch a ride with my mom or have a friend pick me up or just stay home. When I did drive it, I had to lift my foot off the throttle, wait for the automatic transmission to shift down, and then mash the throttle if I wanted to make it over the hill to my house. In my passive-aggressive hatred, I blew up the engine by not putting fluids in the car. I had to pay to replace the engine and keep driving the Chevette. And worst of all, when I got in a minor accident and was hit on the rear quarter panel, my parents allowed the mechanic to slap a two-foot (61-centimeter) bandage sticker on the "wound." I had to drive the car that way until I went to college a thousand miles (1,609 kilometers) away -- too far for that Chevette to follow me.

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  • Clarke, Warren. "Choosing a Safe Car for Your Teen Driver." Edmunds.com. May 24, 2012. (Oct. 31, 2013) http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2013/06/24/the-best-used-cars-for-teenage-drivers/
  • Consumer Reports. "How to Buy Your First Car." ConsumerReports.com. January 2013. (Oct. 31, 2013) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/12/how-to-buy-your-first-car/index.htm
  • Edsall, Larry. "Choosing Your Teen's First Car." MSNAutos.com. (Oct. 31, 2013) http://editorial.autos.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=434845
  • Gorzelany, Jim. "The Best Used Cars for Teenage Drivers." Forbes.com. June 24, 2013. (Oct. 31, 2013) http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2013/06/24/the-best-used-cars-for-teenage-drivers/
  • Healey, James R. "Stick shifts popular again, despite lower gas mileage." May 1, 2012. (Nov. 6, 2013) http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2012/04/stick-shift-manual-transmission-ford-focus-surprise-more-interest-------/1
  • Heaps, Russ. "Bankrate's 7 best cars for teenagers." Bankrate.com. (Oct. 31, 2013) http://www.bankrate.com/finance/auto/best-cars-for-teenagers-1.aspx
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Ratings." IIHS.org. (Nov. 6, 2013) http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings
  • U.S. Department of Transportation. "Shop Smart for a Safer Car, SUV, Mini-Van or Truck." Safercar.org. (Nov. 6, 2013) http://www.safercar.gov/Safety+Ratings


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